Letters to the Editor

Mental health and alcohol — a connection?

During May, Gateway Alcohol & Drug Treatment Centers, Mental Health America and countless other organizations across the county are bringing awareness to mental health. Mental Health Awareness Month aims to fight the stigma associated with mental health issues as well as provide support to those who may be struggling.

While we support mental health awareness year round, this May, Gateway Alcohol & Drug Treatment Centers in Southern Illinois would like to highlight the strong correlation between mental health issues and alcohol abuse.

According to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, 80 percent of individuals with addiction issues have a co-occurring mental health issue. These can include depression, mood disorder, ADD, among others. “In our experience the number of people with a dual diagnosis may be ever higher,” says Michael Feaman, Executive Director, Gateway Swansea.

Alcohol abuse and mental health issues go hand in hand because both are tied to similar centers of the brain. Alcohol temporarily energizes the center of the brain responsible for depression and anxiety, decreasing those symptoms for a person.

The effects of using alcohol to self-medicate are fleeting, leaving a person feeling substantially worse. When a person drinks to make themselves feel better, they create a cycle that repeats, so both the alcohol abuse and mental health issue worsen.

Caught in the spiral, it is almost impossible to stop the cycle without help and support. To learn more visit RecoverGateway.org/MentalHealth.

Katrina Crumley, marketing coordinator, Gateway Foundation, Burbank